Parnelli Jones

Kyle Larson’s maiden foray into the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for Sunday’s 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is rooted in Parnelli Jones’ 1963 victory in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Larson’s father, Mike, admitted his passion for the “500” was sparked while listening to the 1963 race with his dad. Little did Mike know, his son would have a similar career to Jones, 90, the oldest living Indianapolis 500 winner.

Like NASCAR and short track superstar Larson, Jones was known for his ability to drive and win in any kind of machinery.

Jones started the Daytona 500 three times, the Indy 500 seven times, recorded 25 USAC National Sprint Car feature wins, 25 USAC National Midget feature wins and 22 NASCAR West Coast Stock Car wins. He also won the 1964 USAC National Stock Car Championship and the 1970 SCCA Trans-Am Championship.

As a rookie at IMS in 1961, Jones qualified fifth. He finished 12th, completing 192 laps after losing a cylinder costing him speed in the second half of the race. He led twice for 27 laps.

As a rookie at IMS in 2024, Larson is starting fifth in his No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. He’s the top rookie starter in the race.

Jones enjoyed seeing Larson flourish in qualifying Sunday from his home in Rolling Hills, California.

"I'm proud of Kyle,” Jones said. “He did a great job this weekend at Indianapolis. He looked like he was having fun, and that helps you when you're on the track – if it's fun and not stressful.

“We knew he could drive any car and succeed and his performance so far in qualifying backs that up. Kyle's a smart driver and has strong skills and awareness, whether in a sprint car on the dirt or on the pavement in an Indy car.

“It looks like Kyle's working with Tony Kanaan and Jeff Gordon, which is good. They've run thousands and thousands of laps at the Speedway. You can push yourself too hard, too soon or overthink things especially at Indy, and they should be able to help him pace himself and not get over-aggressive, a problem I had my rookie year early in the month. You need to be smooth and patient at Indy.

“I wish him the very best on Race Day. I can't wait to see how Kyle does. So far, he's nailed it; he's right there. He's a good guy. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot – good luck in Charlotte, too. The double!”

Larson is attempting to become just the fifth driver to complete the “double” of racing in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the same day, joining John Andretti, Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch.